New Jersey Representative Rob Andrews made an argument for “Atheists Equality” on the floor of the House this week, an event so rare in Washington, it seems like we should take notice. Andrews spoke in favor of an amendment offered by Colorado Democrat Representative Jared Polis, to the 2014 military appropriations bill, that would have allowed secular humanists to join the Chaplain Corp. Rep. Andrews:
“My Christianity is an important part of who I am and how I see my life. I don’t think that same right should be denied to a service member who does not share my beliefs. What this amendment says is for the thousands of service members who choose a humanist or atheistic philosophy system of life, that they should be able to confide in an adviser who is not a mental health professional.”
As you can imagine, Republicans were not amused at the thought of a non-believer in the Chaplain’s Corp, encouraging godlessness and challenging religious doctrine. The Polis amendment was soundly defeated, 274-150. But any day Congress is forced to reflect on the existence of secular Americans is a good day for modernity.
We will now add Representatives Polis and Andrews to the list of elected officials willing to champion the rights of non-religious Americans. It’s a very short list, but it’s growing. Remember just last month Arizona State Representative Johnny Mendez, offered a quote from Carl Sagan instead of a prayer to open a session in the State House. Who knows how many more are in hiding, waiting until it’s politically safe to come out as open-minded.
You can watch Rep. Andrews make his argument for secular counselors in the military below:
Rob Andrews photo via Wikipedia
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